MASERU — The Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) executive committee is on a charm offensive to clean its image ahead of a special conference which could spell its end.
A special conference to decide the committee’s fate is scheduled for March 19 and 20.
But the committee has already embarked on a campaign to discredit the petitions from constituencies that called for its dissolution.
In a detailed response published in the ruling LCD’s party mouthpiece, Mololi newspaper (10-17 December 2010), the committee scoffs at suggestions that it should be disbanded.
It said the accusations against the committee are too flimsy for the party to call a special conference to discuss them.
The call for a special conference to disband the committee is “neither here nor there”, the committee said.
It also describes as ridiculous the suggestion that all save for party leader Pakalitha Mosisili and deputy leader Lesao Lehohla should be fired.
That demand, the committee said, is unconstitutional because it seeks to “separate the leader from the rest of the committee members”.
“It is in contravention of section 7.1 of the constitution of the party and that of the country,” the committee said.
“Besides, section 12.4 of the LCD constitution states that the leader has the power to remove any member of the executive committee whose performance is not satisfactory.”
“It is also our understanding that the executive committee is voted for at an elective conference by constituencies whose delegates originate from branches.”
“It therefore defies logic why constituency committees can make decisions without having consulted with branch committees. It is imperative to first ensure that these constituencies followed procedure as is dictated by section 5.1.1 (h).”
To justify its stance, the committee further quotes a similar case in 1997 which led to the formation of the LCD.
The case sought to separate the late Ntsu Mokhehle, the former Prime Minister and LCD founder, from some members of the Basutoland Congress Party (BCP) national executive committee.
In that case Justice Gabriel Mofolo said that Mokhehle, who at that time was the Basutoland Congress Party leader, was part and parcel of the party’s national executive committee.
“This court is not prepared to arrogate to itself powers lying outside its province and to cut the constitutional umbilical cord between the leader of the Basutoland Congress Party and its national executive committee,” the committee quotes the judge as having said.
The committee adds that it was unfair that it was being accused of not dealing with party leader and Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili’s attempted assassination on April 22, 2009.
The accusation was made by 22 constituencies including Machache, Matlakeng, Butha-Buthe, Maputsoe, Kolonyama, Sebapala and Malingoaneng.
“On 25 April we issued a circular condemning the attempt to assassinate the leader. It was followed by a press conference on April 29 to address the issue,” the executive committee’s memo says.
“The executive committee also on May 17 held a peace march to the State House in which participants were LCD youth and members from Maseru constituencies, to sympathise with our leader.
“The pinnacle of our commitment regarding the State House attacks was the report we tabled before the party’s 2009 leadership conference, in which we further condemned the act.
“It is therefore not true that the executive committee did nothing. Our firm opinion is that this issue does not require for there to be a special conference to discuss.”
The committee said it was unfair for it to be accused of “wrongdoing” when it accepted a letter by the LCD youth demanding that Mosisili fire some of his cabinet ministers.
Allegations that Mosisili and Lehohla are surrounded by committee members who are enemies of the party are shocking, the committee said.
“We wonder what this means. We regard this not only as belittling; it is also demeaning to the LCD leadership and the conference that elected the same executive committee.”
The committee also dismisses allegations that it failed to protect the LCD and its administration against the attack by former secretary general and trade minister Mpho Malie.
In February 2010, Malie, who is the chairman of the LCD elders’ committee, wrote a scathing letter to Standard Lesotho Bank, questioning the maladministration of the government-guaranteed block farming loans which were issued by the bank.
In the letter Malie questioned the role of some cabinet ministers who acted as mentors but also “appeared as debtors”.
He also alleged that some of the block farming loans could have been stolen or laundered.
“We feel that this is unfair not only to the committee but to the elders committee chairman (Malie) as well. He (Malie) has been demonised.”